As long as I can remember, I have always counted down to my birthday. (Even now, as I am about to turn 48 years old because 48 on 8/8! Woo! Numbernerd!) I have also always been SUPER uncomfortable with receiving gifts. I prefer to do something with friends rather than receive presents. Like, even when I was 5 years old I felt like this. I know. Weird.
Years ago, as my birthday was approaching, all I could think about was my close friend, Kris, who was in City of Hope cancer research hospital receiving treatment for leukemia. Kris, and hundreds of other patients there, were fighting so hard just to see another birthday, so I wanted to do anything I could to help her reach her goal. I didn’t match Kris’s blood type so I couldn’t donate much-needed blood transfusions to her, but I donated anyway, so another patient could benefit from it. I decided I wanted to do a marathon in her honor to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and Wil joined me. Together, we raised $26,000 to aid in cancer research, but it still didn’t feel like enough. Kris is alive and well now, thanks to a life-saving stem cell transplant found on a donor registry from a woman in the midwest, so I signed up to be a donor myself in the hopes that one day I can help someone the way this woman helped my friend. (I still haven’t been called yet!)
I do what I can throughout the year to help people in different ways, but my birthday is always a reminder to give life-saving blood to those who are fighting for their lives. My birthday isn’t for a few more days, but I’m writing this today because I am taking a much needed off-the-grid vacation this week to spend with friends who are like family to us. If you’d like to help me celebrate my birthday (and you’re physically capable of donating blood) please do so this week at your local blood bank. If you aren’t able to (or if it freaks you out too much) please consider signing up to be a marrow donor (also only if you’re physically able to do so) at https://bethematch.org.
There are so many ways to help make life better for others. Whether you donate blood, take a little time to deliver for Meals On Wheels, volunteer your time or some supplies to a local homeless shelter, or read to kids in a library, you can make a difference in the lives of others. That is the best gift, ever.